Automating Class Schedule Generation in the Context of a University Timetabling Information System
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This thesis examines the university timetable generation problem. It begins with a discussion on the conflicting terminology used and differentiates between the terms scheduling and timetabling. This discussion integrates with an overview of the problem itself both from practical and academic perspectives. This is followed by a summary of the apparently effective timetable solution generation algorithms. The literature is then examined in detail from that perspective. This literature review is then summarised in a form to highlight the use of these different solution algorithms. A classification schema is developed and the summary of the literature presented within the framework of this schema. Trends in the research literature result from this presentation and an extrapolation to future research trends are suggested. An information system based upon the need to support timetable production and maintenance is presented. Given the very practical outcomes expected of timetable research, the information system was designed to enable the whole range of administrative functions performed by teachers to be either directly supported or readily modified to prove such support. The implementation of this particular system is given and resulting timetables are presented and discussed. The system generated manual and automated timetables and these were produced by trailing a number of objective functions. It was noted that the determination of the optimal objective function is dominated by specific individual institutional criteria. It is suggested that this would make a more than significant project for future information systems research. From the literature it is noted that the timetable generation problem, as reported time and time again in the literature, has been solved. Such claims lead to a benchmark which is proposed to enable an initial comparison of the effectiveness of proposed solutions by different researchers. The thesis then presents a summary of the work that was carried out and offers direction for future research. It is noted that despite the fifty years of research conducted into this area there exists a significant number of research avenues still to be pursued.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Management
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timetable management information systems